The Libyan crisis seemed close to being resolved following the decision of the Tunisian Forum and the agreement of the two parties to the conflict on a preliminary roadmap to end the transitional period and organize presidential elections. Government of National Accord (GNA) leader Fayez al-Sarraj’s decision to resign was welcomed locally, regionally and internationally, as everyone appreciated this bold step, which reflects a shared sense of responsibility among the Libyan parties, especially after the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced the return of oil pumping and the lifting of the blockade on oil installations. However, controversy has returned after Sarraj retracted his resignation, under allegations of responding to urgent requests from home and abroad, claiming so that his resignation does not occur in a political vacuum. But this retreat comes in his hope of returning to the scene again and staying in power after the Tunisian resolution of the Libyan roadmap.
Greedy for power
Shortly before the end of October, Sarraj announced detracting his resignation, saying, “I retreated from the resignation that I had intended at the end of this October in response to urgent domestic and foreign requests and in order not to create a political vacuum.” He confirmed that international and local parties had urged him to detract his resignation.
Sarraj’s reversal and decision to return to the scene again as the head of the GNA came following the radical change that Libya witnessed during the dialogue that was held in Tunisia and the settlement reached there, which had placed the war-torn country on the roadmap to returning to the path of unity and peace by creating legitimacy that stems from the will of the Libyans. The two parties to the conflict agreed during the negotiations on a preliminary roadmap to end the transitional period and to organize free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections. The United Nations had chosen 75 people to participate in the forum, representing the political, military and social fabric of the country, in a move that sparked criticism of the forum and questioning its credibility, as all of the participants had pledged not to participate in the prospective government.
This somewhat unsurprising retreat came at a time when the Libyan parties are preparing to sit at two important new negotiating tables, one in Tunisia related to the political track and the second inside Libya for the first time in the city of Ghadames, where they are to put the final touches on the important ceasefire agreement that emerged from the Geneva meeting.
Retreat from resignation
Sarraj announced his resignation amidst a turbulent internal situation in Libya, as demonstrations have spread in the streets of Tripoli and erupted in the rest of the cities of western Libyan, in addition to intense external disputes over the Libyan file and its local, regional and international repercussions, as well as vigorous attempts to establish a comprehensive political solution that would end the long-running Libyan crisis and implement broken agreements. Sarraj stated that his resignation, which was to be submitted at the time, came against the backdrop of the difficult situation, adding that his government was exposed to conspiracies, saying, “The government has not been working in a normal and even semi-natural environment since its formation and has been exposed every day to conspiracies internally and externally. It has faced many difficulties in performing its duties.”
Some international calls to retract the resignation can be understood in light of the threats posed by uncontrolled armed groups even in the presence of a governing institution, but on the other hand it may open the door to skepticism from the opposite party, which will explain Sarraj’s move as playing on time and threatening the climate of confidence that was started in the meetings held in Morocco, Egypt, Berlin and Geneva.
Observers have emphasized that the reasons that pushed some parties to demand postponement of Sarraj’s resignation and support for him remaining as head of the GNA is in order to preserve the stability of the country and to avoid a political vacuum. Also, his resignation would shake many thrones, especially since the two most prominent articles in the agreements are a radical political change with a new executive office and the final exit of militias and foreign mercenaries from Libyan soil.